Trichromatic colour vision in New World monkeys

Abstract

TRICHROMATIC colour vision depends on the presence of three types of cone photopigment. Trichromacy is the norm for all Old World monkeys, apes and humans, but in several genera of New World monkeys, colour vision is strikingly polymorphic1. The difference in colour vision between these New and Old World primates results from differing arrangements of the pigment genes on the X chromosome. In Old World primates the three photopigments required for routine trichromatic colour vision are encoded by two or more X-chromosome pigment genes and an autosomal pigment gene. New World monkeys typically have only one X-chromosome pigment gene; multiple alleles allow different types of dichromatic colour vision and, in females heterozygous at this locus, variant forms of trichromatic colour vision. Here we report that multiple X-chromosome pigment genes and trichromatic colour vision are the norm for one genus of platyrrhine monkey, the howler monkey, Alouatta.

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Jacobs, G., Neitz, M., Deegan, J. et al. Trichromatic colour vision in New World monkeys. Nature 382, 156–158 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1038/382156a0

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